JANUARY BIRTHSTONE – GARNET

A Big Family

Garnet has been one of my favorite gems for cutting and polishing ever since starting in faceting nearly 25 years ago.  I purchased a Turbo Fan polishing lap from Israel and it polishes garnet in a snap with not even the slightest hairlike scratches.  It’s like I polished it with 50,000 diamond paste.  Garnet is consistent and reliable when cutting and polishing.

I mentioned a big family in my title because there are many different types of garnet.  There are six different types of garnet classified by their chemical composition and structure.  Dr. Joel E. Arem in his benchmark book Color Encyclopedia of Gemstones discusses the scientific end of Garnet over 6 pages.  There are even subcategories based on chemical makeup.  I am not remotely qualified to get into the technical aspects of these stones and it is not the least bit romantic.

Garnets come in many colors.  Not just red.  Blue and purple are very scarce according to Dr. Arem.  I have never seen one.  But every other color and shade is out there.  Yellows, pinks, reds, purple reds, greens medium to dark, black and colorless.  Even some shades of brown (Mali garnet).  The categories are as follows:  Uvarovite (dark green), Grossular, Andradite, Pyrope, Almandine, Spessartine (includes Malaya and Rhodolite).  Confusing, right?  AND you can never really identify a garnet by it’s color.  You need to be a gemologist with a microscope and other equipment to properly identify what type of garnet it is.

Price Ranges                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Like all other gems there is a huge spread from easily affordable to princely sums.  Grossular-tsavorite and Andradite-demantoid come in bright green colors that can be very expensive.  Again it is demand versus availability that controls the price.  These stones are scarce and especially in large sizes with good clarity.

The hardness of garnet makes it very wearable in jewelry, but it is slightly brittle and can chip easily.  My opinion is wear the lower priced garnets in rings.  That way you are not going to loose a lot of money if it chips.  The really expensive garnet should be in a pendant, a pin, earrings, etc.  Or keep it in a box; which I am so fond of saying.  Garnet is very popular in the shades of red color and easily affordable.  If January is your birth month you have a fine excuse to treat yourself or a loved one to a sparkling red garnet.  Maybe let that Tsavorite go for a 25th anniversary!  I will see you on my review page next after I hunt down some photos of affordable red garnets.  Best regards, Robert.

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